Step into the history, heritage and culture of The Kentucky Wildlands with a visit to one or more of the many museums and historic sites dedicated to telling the stories of the Appalachian region and its impact on the world.
Exploring the history of eastern Kentucky means learning about the effect coal mining has had on the region, the state and the rest of the country. Experience the life of a 20th century coalminer at the nationally acclaimed Kentucky Coal Museum in Benham, housing one of the most comprehensive collections of mining memorabilia, as well as a mock underground coal mine. Visit a closed mine in Benham, the Barthell Coal Mining Camp and Blue Heron Coal Mining Camp in Stearns, the Coal Miner’s Museum in Van Lear, or the Bell County Coal House and Museum in Middlesboro to learn even more about this important Kentucky legacy.
Dine at the original Harland Sanders Café and Museum in Corbin, complete with early American memorabilia, and learn the story of how Colonel Sanders built Kentucky Fried Chicken into today’s global sensation. Learn the not-so-known stories and Kentucky roots of many of your favorite country, folk and bluegrass stars, including Loretta Lynn, Billy Ray Cyrus, Chris Stapleton, The Judds and more, at the Kentucky Music Hall of Fame and Museum in Renfro Valley. Take a scenic tour down the historic Country Music Highway to the U.S. 23 County Music Highway Museum in Staffordsville.
From turn-of-the-century train depots highlighting the region’s railroad heritage and museums honoring veterans of all the American wars to pioneer villages and living history museums, such as the Mountain HomePlace at Paintsville Lake State Park in Staffordsville; from historic homes and museums that pay tribute to Appalachian folk art, crafts and storytelling, such as the Kentucky Folk Art Center in Morehead, to those that stress iconic cultural events, such as the Hatfield and McCoy feud at the Big Sandy Heritage Center in Pikeville; and from science to the unexplained, there are a multitude of unique museums and local historic gems that let you take a bit of the past with you in The Kentucky Wildlands.